For months, Sacramento insiders have speculated about Gov. Jerry Brown’s real views of high-speed rail. Despite his nominal public support for the project, some have believed that his appointment of “realists” to the high-speed rail board showed he wanted it dead. Others have said his public view was his private view. Still others have said that Brown was merely doing the Obama administration a favor by backing the project so it could get started next year and allow the president to tout it on the campaign trail as he sought re-election. But the brutally harsh report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office on Tuesday should sweep all this shadow-boxing and speculation away.
The state’s top analyst on Tuesday not only questioned the legality of launching a high speed-train, but also warned legislators that starting construction on the rail line could be a $6 billion waste of tax funds at the expense of social services, education and other transportation projects.
In the sharpest critique yet of the state’s newly revised plan to spend two decades and $99 billion building a bullet train line, the Legislative Analyst’s Office bashed planners for relying on “highly speculative” funding sources.
As a result, the analyst concluded that it’s “highly uncertain” the full project will ever get built. Even so, the state intends to start construction in the Central Valley next year by spending $2.7 billion in state bonds plus a $3.3 billion federal grant to build a stretch of track too short for bullet train service — a move that has already triggered a lawsuit. But passengers won’t start zipping between San Francisco and Anaheim unless Congress bankrolls more than half the project, a dubious scenario considering federal lawmakers have killed all high-speed rail funds for two straight years.
“It appears doubtful that substantial additional federal support will be forthcoming anytime soon,” the report says. “This makes it increasingly likely that the (initial stretch of track) may be all that is ever built,” a project that is “unlikely to justify (the) expense.”
That’s from the Mercury-News.
Well, Jerry, what is it going to be? Are you going to keep us all speculating what you really think or be specific — finally?
The bullet-train fiasco is a sad chapter in California politics and governance. It’s been sold with lies from the start. Even now — with a business plan that we’re told is finally honest and based on hard numbers — the project depends on a vast array of dubious assumptions and long shots coming to pass.
Even the richest, healthiest state in the world would wonder about pursuing such a boondoggle. For California to do so when its finances are shot and its other needs are so great is certifiable.
Let’s see if Edmund has figured this out. At the least, though, we need clarity on what he really believes — no more “chess” that makes us wonder what the Zen Master truly thinks is best for California.